Back in the summer we spent some time exploring the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames. It’s somewhere I’d heard lots of good things about and had been on our to do list for ages. We had a free day, and I decided we’d head down to Henley nice and early so we could enjoy our time there.
We’ve found parking in Henley-on-Thames to be challenging at times in the past, so I was determined to arrive early so we could ensure we got a free parking spot within the museum car park itself. The car park is barrier controlled and when you leave the museum the staff give you an exit code. We visited in the height of the summer holidays and by the time we left after lunch, the car park was full. There is also a pay and display car park between the museum and the river, but this does get very busy in peak periods.
Exploring the River and Rowing Museum was going to be really easy as the staff were so welcoming and really informative. It was instantly apparent that everything is very much focussed around children. The lady on reception talked directly to my son about all the available activities, handed him the map and made him feel at ease. It’s also worth noting that your entry price gives you free access to the museum for a year.
There were a number of free activities set up for children of various ages, including back packs but of course, on this particular day my 7 year old decided that he just wanted to wander under his own steam and spend time exploring the River and Rowing Museum without making use of any of them.
There are a number of permanent displays set across two floors, including The Wind in the Willows, Rowing, Rivers, John piper the artist and the History of Henley-on-Thames. There’s really something for all ages and when we visited you could see that there was something of interest for all generations.
The Wind in the Willows gallery is a must visit part of the museum. It’s really rather magical, there is a dark section that my son wasn’t so keen on, but in general he loved looking at Mr Toad and his friends.
When we visited there was a Peter Rabbit exhibition with lots of illustrations from different time periods, merchandising from across the decades and it was really interesting to see how Peter and his friends have evolved over the years.
Henley-on-Thames is famous for its rowing regatta and the Leander club and exploring the River and Rowing Museum gave both my son and I time to learn more about the sport. It’s amazing how the technology involved in the boats and oars has changed so much over the years. There are lots of interactive displays and even a couple of rowing machines to try out. You can see the boat that won the first boat race and have a seat in a Greek Trireme.
The River Gallery is fascinating as you learn about the river Thames through the ages. You get to see how a water-mill worked, how the river flows as well as learning about the animals and insects that thrive along the river banks.
The insects and animal track area were a big hit with my little nature lover and he spent ages in this section.
Exploring the River and Rowing Museum was thirsty work so we made use of the on site cafe, which you can actually visit separately from the museum if you choose it. They have a lovely decked sun terrace as well as plenty of seating inside. I did find the waiter service a little slow but the rolls we had were good and there’s a good drinks selection to suit all tastes.
There’s a little hidden gem to be discovered around the perimeter of the car park in the form of a nature trail. My son was off like a shot as soon as he realised that was there. With information boards along the walk, it’s a really clever way to utilise space and the walk features Mr McGregor’s garden in the middle of it.
Within Mr McGregor’s Garden we found a water area where you could design bamboo water tunnels and have some fun. This was a big hit.
Exploring the River and Rowing Museum was great fun and we will be going back soon to see the BFG in Pictures exhibition which is in place until 21st January 2018. Have you been? If not, maybe be pin this post for later.